AUTHORS AT LARGE is the brainchild of Robin Hemleyand Xu Xi, two award winning authors who met in 2002 at the Foreign Correspondents Club bar in Hong Kong. Since that first meeting, their writing lives have crossed transnationally numerous times.
In 2005 or thereabouts, over a drink by the river in Sacramento, they imagined the solitude of their writing lives buoyed by a literary community that connected regularly around the world. An early, over-ambitious attempt to launch AUTHORS AT LARGE was abandoned. Then, their careers as creative writing teachers took unexpected turns towards Asia, where each has a personal stake.
Ten years after they first articulated their idea, the time was right to relaunch AUTHORS AT LARGE. In 2016, they offered their first intensive writing retreat in Asia, on the private island of Telunas in Indonesia. Writers from Asia, Australia and the U.S. participated in this first retreat which was very successful (read their testimonials here). Their hope is to grow their international community of writers by sharing what they've learned in their transnational writing lives.
In the summer of 2017, AUTHORS AT LARGE extends their international reach beyond Asia to Europe, with week-long retreats over the summer in Iceland, Thailand and again on Telunas. Their first urban weekend retreat is scheduled in November in Hong Kong. The Iceland and Thailand retreats are offered as part of the 2017 Iowa Summer Writers Festival.
Robin Hemley is the author of 13 books of nonfiction and fiction, and is the Founder of NonfictioNOW, the world’s leading international conference in nonfiction. A graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, he returned to Iowa for nine years, to direct the Nonfiction Writing Program. A Senior Editor at Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel, as well as a Contributing Editor to The Iowa Review and on the Advisory Board of Fourth Genre, he has many years publishing experience, including five years as the Editor of The Bellingham Review, where he founded The Annie Dillard Award in Nonfiction and The Tobias Wolff Award in Fiction. Among his numerous awards for his writing, he’s been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, three Pushcart Prizes in both fiction and nonfiction, The Independent Press Book Award, an Editor’s Choice Award from The American Library Association, State Arts Council grants from Washington, North Carolina, and Illinois, The Ohioana Library Association Award, and fellowships from the Bogliasco Foundation, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, The MacDowell Colony, and many others. His work has been published in the U.S. Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany, the Philippines, Singapore, and elsewhere.. He was the inaugural director of the Writers Centre at Yale-NUS Singapore, where he currently coordinates Creative Writing and is Writer-in-Residence and Professor of Humanities. He was also the Faculty Chair of the low-residency MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and taught at the low-residency MFA Program at City University of Hong Kong. He is likewise Professor Emeritus in the Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at RMIT University in Melbourne.
Xu Xi 許素細 is the author of fourteen books of fiction & essays, most recently This Fish is Fowl: Essays of Being (Nebraska, American Lives series 2019), Insignificance: Hong Kong Stories (Signal 8 Press), a memoir Dear Hong Kong: An Elegy For A City (Penguin, July 2017) and her fifth novel, That Man In Our Lives(C & R Press, 2016). Forthcoming books include The Art & Craft of Asian Stores, co-edited with Robin Hemley (Bloomsbury, London 2020). She has been a finalist for the Man Asian Literary Prize, an O. Henry short story prize winner and a New York State Arts Foundation fiction fellow. She is also editor of four anthologies of Hong Kong writing in English.
Prior to her full-time writing life, Xu had a parallel career in corporate marketing, mostly in the international arena. She worked in Asia and America for several major multinationals, and held management positions at Dow Jones (TheAsian Wall Street Journal), Federal Express, Leo Burnett and Pinkerton’s. Other marketing positions she held were at Cathay Pacific Airways, the Wall Street law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and PDT Architects in Cincinnati. In 1998, after the publication of her third book, she did surrender completely to the writing life.
At home in both the U.S. and Asia, she was a faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in writing from 2002-12, and served as faculty chair from 2009-12. She was writer-in-residence at City University of Hong Kong from 2010 to 2016 where she established and directed Asia's first low-residency MFA in writing that is internationally recognized; in 2015, this highly successful program was controversially closed by the university. A former distinguished visiting writer at the Virginia G. Piper Center for creative writing at Arizona State University in Tempe in 2016, she is also fiction editor at Tupelo Press in the U.S. In 2018 she was named Faculty Co-Director of a new International MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She holds a MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Released July 2017 Penguin Australia (Hong Kong Series for 20th anniversary of handover of Hong Kong to China)
That Man In Our Lives (novel)
Released September 2016 by C&R Press, USA.
HKU Museum & Art Galley released September 2016
Habit of a Foreign Sky (novel)
2010 Haven Books, Hong Kong.
The Unwalled City (novel)
2001 Chameleon Press, Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Rose (novel)
1st edition 1997, Asia 2000; 2nd edition 2004, Chameleon Press, Hong Kong.
Access Thirteen Tales (short stories)
2011 Signal 8 Press, Hong Kong.
Evanescent Isles (essays)
2008 Hong Kong University Press.
At our international week-long writers’ retreats, our authors lead small group workshops in fiction and nonfiction. Your manuscript is closely read by the workshop leader and others in your group. Guided by your workshop leader, each manuscript is discussed to discover what could make it an even more effective literary piece. Critiques are moderated in the communal spirit of writers reading and supporting other writers. There are also talks & discussions on writing craft, as well as informal sharing of our work. We offer an opportunity for all participants to reflect upon the writing life and its challenges. Personal writing time is factored into the daily schedule.
In 2016, we held our very first retreat on Telunas Private Island in Indonesia and returned there the following year. In 2017 we visited Siglufjörður, a historic fishing village in the north of Iceland May 27 to June 1 in
Thailand July 16 to 22 in Hua Hin
Indonesia July 23 to 28 on Telunas Private Island
At the retreats, it’s all about living like a writer in the company of writers. We use this time to write and read, to immerse ourselves in the challenge of putting our hearts and minds on the page.
May 27 to June 1: Six days/five nights in this historic fishing town on Iceland’s northern coast. Join us in the land of the midnight sun.
Hua Hin, Thailand
July 16 to 22: Seven days/six nights by the beach in Hua Hin, southern Thailand, in the town that is home to the Thai royal family's summer palace.
July 23 to 28 Sunday to Thursday: We returned once again to this beautiful private island for six days & five nights of an exclusive writers’ retreat experience on Telunas Private Island in Indonesia.
We select convenient, central locations with good conference/teaching facilities, close to hotels and other facilities for visitors to the city. Participants must make their own arrangements for accommodations.
Admittance to these retreats are by application for first time participants with AAL. Former and current AAL clients may register at a discount and are not required to apply.
Your Writing Weekend
A typical weekend begins on Friday evening and covers full days on Saturday and Sunday with a generative style writing workshop. The retreat includes a review of excerpts of participants' writing structured around various writing craft issues. Revision is encouraged and in-session writing exercises are used to develop your work. Lunch is included and lunchtime conversations will center around aspects of the writing life -- finding agents, publishing, how to sustain writing with other life responsibilities and careers. There are opportunities for participants to share their work.
The author leading the retreat will usually also offer a limited number of individual manuscript consultations for longer works at a special rate only for retreat participants.
Hong Kong 2017- click on link to see details - registration is now closed
Information & Contact
All prices listed on this website for credit card charges are in US$
Authors at Large Writing Retreat prices are for the retreat & workshop only. Accommodation & travel costs are extra and you must make those arrangements yourself.
To attend our international writers' retreats or workshops, please apply by sending a writing sample of either fiction or nonfiction to email@example.com. Please see the specific retreat or workshop for application details. Once your application has been accepted, your place at the retreat or workshop needs to be guaranteed by a paid registration. Until payment has been received, your place is not guaranteed. Current or former Authors at Large clients need not submit any application and may just register. All registrations are first come first served until the retreat or workshop is filled.
For all week-long retreats, reservations for accommodations must be made directly with and paid to the international retreat facility. Any cancellation of your stay will be subject to their policies. Authors at Large will not assume any responsibility for expenses incurred by your reservation. For urban weekend retreats, participants are responsible for their own accommodation.
To reach the co-directors of Authors at Large please email:
Send us your queries and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Cancellations & refunds
We will refund 100% of your registration fee for our week-long retreats if you cancel by no later than 90 days prior to the start date. Later cancellations are partially refunded: 75 to 90 days - 75%; 60 to 75 days - 50%; 30 to 60 days - 25%; less than 30 days - 10%. All refunds are less service fees charged by our billing provider for credit card payments.
For urban weekend retreats and workshops, the refund policy is posted at the registration page.
Should AAL cancel a retreat for any reason, all fees will be refunded in full less service fees charged by our billing provider for credit card payments.